The age of craft and boutique beers is upon us. Many people are passionate about these amazing beers, people who for years have been drinking wine realise the great flavours that beer creates, whether enjoyed with food or not.
Incredible times, obviously the beer culture in Belgium with its speciality beers, the culture in the United States of producing fantastic ales and lagers, Northern France for its bieres de garde, the great pilsners of eastern Europe and Germany, the passion of Australia and the amazing renaissance of the United Kingdom in the micro and craft brewery’s, spanning the length and breadth of the nation.
So for me it is much more than a quick pint, it has the depth, complexity and structure to rival that of wine, it is steeped in history, as old as civilization itself and that’s why beer is as important to us as a society, it is in our culture and should be enjoyed and explored.
For a long time we have had a great choice of craft beers in our long list of places, from Thornbridge cask and keg products to other great beers like Duval, Brooklyn, Chimay, Coopers and all the others. So we have a passion for food and drink, offering a lovely craft beer list, talking about which beer goes best with which dish.
A great nutty and sweet English pale ale cleanses the palate or a refreshing white or wheat beer served on ice with orange and coriander is a fantastic alternative. What a way to start your meal instead of the ubiquitous G and T or a glass of fizz.
Then maybe onto hoppy Jever from northern Germany or a frambroise, an amazing fruit beer from Belgium.
Soup is very popular but obviously liquid! Don’t put a liquid with a liquid forget about beer or wine in my opionion just enjoy the soup and get extra bread for dunking.!!!!!
With all starters for me try Indian pale ales, something hoppy, fresh and holds a big punch. If you are eating smoked fish try a smoked beer it will either complement or contrast the dish. I really like a high quality Czech pilsner with that perfuming character, a great combination.
With fish my favourite is cherry beer, especially with turbot, buttered Cornish spring greens, fresh Jersey Royals with parsley- amazing.
Meat is a big one though, it must have a beer packed with aroma and flavour, the new wave pale ales from the States are great, also the mega powerful trappist ales from Belgium or a lovely Vienna Red with great depth and clarity. With beef, pork, venison and lamb go for the big boys delivering a big punch.
Cheese is great with beer, the perfect partner. Soft cheese with Belgium beers, and for the stronger, firmer cheeses hoppy aromatic pale ale goes best.
For pudding you need a beer with a high level of sweetness, such as German bock, stout, or Vienna sweet lagers. My favourites are fruit beers using raspberries, cherries, peaches or bananas; they really do come into their own with a pudding. My all-time favourite is a chocolate stout from the Brooklyn Brewery.
So as we look at 2012 for something new for us to develop we have decided to use beer much more in our cooking, not just in steak and ale pies or in beer batters, but in jellies, chutneys, bread, casseroles and braised, ice-creams, sorbets and dressings. We are not putting it in for the sake of it, but for the enhancement of flavour, improve the product and let our chefs shine and develop new tastes.
So we have a busy few weeks in the development kitchen to perfect these new dishes.
Enjoy food and drink (in particular beer)